Your 7 Favorite Posts About Freelance Writing — So Far

by Carol Tice – 20 Comments

Seven great blog posts about freelance writingHey, writers!

Looking for a little summertime inspiration to get your freelance writing in gear?

Well, I noticed that my January roundup of the most popular posts of 2013 was the most popular post I’ve done here on the blog so far this year. Apparently, you find these best-of compendiums useful.

So I’m here to help with another handy set of popular posts — these are from the first half of 2014. I’m actually out in the Internetless countryside in Colorado right now, but wanted to keep you stocked with useful info to grow your freelance writing income while I’m gone.

Here are the seven Make a Living Writing posts that had the most readers the week they published:

  1. Why You Need to Go For Your Freelance Writing Dream Now
  2. What the Elance-oDesk Merger Means for Freelance Writers
  3. I Quit My Job to Be a Freelance Writer: What Was I Thinking?
  4. Writers: Soar Like an Olympian With These 4 Key Traits
  5. Use This Simple Tool to Move Forward With Your Freelance Writing
  6. Writing for Guardian Liberty Voice: 10 Writers’ Stories
  7. The 4 Worst Places for Freelance Writers to Start

Enjoy!

Carol


What was your favorite post about freelance writing this year so far?
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How I Found Great Freelance Work on My Doorstep

by Carol Tice – 29 Comments

Freelance writing work comes to your doorBy Gwen Boyle

As a beginning freelance writer, finding your first clients can be overwhelming.

Should you start with publications or companies? Big or small? What’s your niche? How on earth do you reach out to these people?

It’s enough to make you crawl under the bedcovers and pray that clients find you there. But you know that’s not going to happen.

Earlier this year, after getting a couple of pro bono clips, I was figuring out how to find paying clients.

I joined the Freelance Writer’s Den, and discovered a bootcamp: The Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success, which teaches writers how to start from zero, build a portfolio quickly, and start finding good first clients.

The first exercise taught me exactly how to start finding clients. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to look very far for freelance work.

I reconsidered my experience

I thought that freelancing was a chance to leave my resume behind. As a writer, I could write about anything! What did my experience matter?

However, I learned that it makes sense to start with what you know. The first exercise, identifying “low hanging fruit,” encouraged me to reconsider my experience, education, and passions.

After making lists of every job I’ve had, every course I’d taken, my hobbies, and my interests, I pinpointed the intersections between these lists and areas where I might find good clients.

I reached out to likely prospects

With helpful feedback from Den Mother Carol, I found two likely areas to focus on: education and environmental organizations.

I had resisted the idea of having a niche. However, picking a couple of areas made it easier to start sending letters of introduction (LOIs), rather than just thinking about it.

Concentrating on education first, I drew up a list of prospects. I started with the most daunting: large higher education publishers. While it felt great to start contacting people, I realized there was one little thing on my list that I hadn’t tackled.

There was somewhere that used freelance writers: somewhere that was local, and that I knew inside out.

I found a great client in an unexpected place

I had scribbled down “Alumni Office?” on my list, identifying my former university as a prospect. But I kept overlooking it when making my way through my LOIs.

I had spent nearly nine years at a university I loved, finally leaving with a PhD last year. I was keen to make a fresh start in freelance writing – but why had I ignored a potential source of work?

I’m not sure why it took me so long to see a client in my own backyard, but I bit the bullet and sent an email. To my delight, I got a positive response, had a lovely meeting, and landed some writing work with my old university!

I’m looking forward to working with them, and I’m amazed by my blind spot when it came to finding a local source of work.

Clients can be a lot closer to home than you think.

Have you found a client from your past experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Gwen Boyle is a freelance writer from Cork, Ireland. Discover resources for inventing your own job at Versatile Creatures, her blog dedicated to alternative and creative ways of making a living.
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What Could You Do With a Free Month in Freelance Writers Den? (Contest)

by Carol Tice – 118 Comments

Freelance writer contestIn the spring of 2011, I was sitting in Chicago at SOBCon, listening to a lot of really inspiring online business visionaries, when I got a crazy idea: I should stop musing about whether I should launch a paid membership learning community for freelance writers, and freakin’ launch it, already.

It had become clear I couldn’t execute on my mission of helping the most freelance writers earn more the fastest by coaching writers one at a time. I needed to create trainings hundreds of writers could view at once.

It was also clear that a lot of writers are cash-strapped. If I wanted to help many, I needed to find some affordable way to give many writers access.

The answer seemed to be a membership platform.

Would this really work?

I got crazy busy. Surveys were conducted — what would you want in a writer learning community? What would you pay for that? Webmasters were hired. E-courses were created. Software was purchased…and then, more software when some of the first software wouldn’t talk to some of the other software.

Thousands of dollars were spent, on a flier that writers would find this platform useful for building their writing income. It felt risky…but it also felt like I was moving in the right direction. I felt compelled to create this, to try it out and see if it would help writers.

Just a few months later, on July 11, 2011, Freelance Writers Den opened its virtual doors. All my one-on-one mentees to that point got a free ticket in the door, which helped get things going. We ended that first month with about 100 members.

My big dream and whole business plan was that maybe, if I worked and built this platform for oh, five years or so, it might hit 500 members. Which seemed like the point at which the model would make sense.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, we hit 500 members before the first anniversary.

Today — ten multi-week bootcamps, over 100+ hours of live trainings, and 45,000 open forum comments and hundreds of private messages later — the Den has more than 1,200 members.

It’s still hard for me to believe. Still pinching myself, every day.

I am thrilled beyond words that the Den has turned out to be such a useful resource for so many writers. Seeing the many posts in our “Share Your Success” forum about writers who’re getting better clients or charging higher hourly rates is an absolute highlight of my professional career.

And we’re just getting started. The Den continues to grow and to offer new resources — at members’ request, we’ve just added a forum where members can share feedback and comment on each others’ blogs. Our job board now includes member profiles that are searchable by prospective clients. And this fall, our next bootcamp will be about self-publishing — the booming opportunity for writers to diversify their business and add more income.

That’s the story of how the Den came to be, and how it grew. What’s next? An essay contest to celebrate our third anniversary, among other goodies!

Contest details:

To celebrate the Den anniversary, I’m holding a contest right here on the blog. Contest begins today (Wednesday, July 9.)

First prize: 1 month free in the Den.

Got prizes for 6 runners-up, too: three 20-minute mini-mentoring sessions with me, and three e-book bundles of every e-book I’ve got.

To enter, post your answer below on the topic: What I Could Do With a Free Month in Freelance Writers Den.

Where’ve you been so far as a writer, and what could you do with your freelance writing career if you had access to those Den resources?

Hint: Pleas about how desperately broke you are will not get you a win. Brilliant, compelling writing and a unique story will.

I’ll come on back and update this post to announce the winners on Monday.

Eligibility: Current Den members are ineligible to win the free month, but may win any of the other prizes.

Good luck, all!

P.S. If you don’t win, take heart — a month in the Den is just $25 — and there’s no obligation, you can quit anytime.

P.P.S – OK, I’m back with the winners! Congrats to ebook winners Michelle B, Penelope, and Amber E, who won three free ebooksThe Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success, How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger, and 13 Ways to Get the Writing Done Faster. Also excited to announce KJ, Kim H and Amy N snagged free 20-minute, 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with me.

And our 1-month free in the Den winner is…drumroll please…Cindy Brown! Congrats to all the winners. This was a very tough contest to judge, folks! I loved so many entries — you’re all awesome.

The Freelance Writers Den: Learn More

How to Get Over Your Paralyzing Article Writing Fears

by Carol Tice – 24 Comments

Anxious freelance writerIt’s a long way to go from the spark of a story idea to a finished article that appears in a magazine.

Along the way, many writers get stuck. Fears stop them in their tracks.

The years go by, and they don’t get published. Their dream of seeing their byline in a magazine falls by the wayside.

Writer fears on parade

Among the fears I hear a lot:

“I’m worried my story idea isn’t good enough.”

“I’m not sure which editor to send it to, so I gave up.”

“I’m scared to do interviews! Are there any articles I can write where I won’t have to talk to anyone?”

“I write my draft, but then I’m afraid to send it in.”

“I had an editor ask me to write an article, but then I just froze.”

“I got my draft back and my editor wanted all these changes. Now I’m crushed! And I think my writing must not be any good.”

Here’s the one I saw recently that really tore it for me. One writer posted in the Freelance Writers Den forums:

“I sent this pitch to my first choice magazine three weeks ago.

“When would it be safe to send this to another publication?”

Okay. Let’s stop this, right now.

Is it safe?

If you’ve been living a corporate, day-job kind of life, freelancing can seem scary. Nothing is assured.

And that leaves you alone with your insecurities rattling around in your head, filling up your thoughts.

The first thing to do is to stop thinking this way, and reframe how you think about the things you need to do as a freelancer that scare you.

Here are three ways to attack and overcome these fears.

The worst-case scenario

First, ask yourself: What are you really afraid of, anyway? What’s the worst that could happen, in any of these scenarios above?

In all cases, I’m going to take a flier and guess that your life is not in danger here.

Maybe your pride gets a little dinged. An editor says “no.”

So what? There are a lot of editors in the sea. You move on and try another one, is all.

When you think of it that way…what’s so scary? Nothing. Freelancing is completely safe to try. Just go for it.

Life isn’t safe

The second way to think about freelancing fears is to view them in the right context.

What is really safe in this world? Nothing.

Not your day job. Not your lifespan. Not a thing. Each breath involves risk. And so does freelancing.

So why not dare?

Freelancing favors the bold. It’s about taking risks and seeing what happens, and learning from that and doing better next time.

See it as an experiment. Emotionally detach yourself a bit from it and view it like a scientist. What could happen if I sent that query? Wrote that article? Let’s find out!

Try, measure, improve, repeat. That’s a successful freelancer’s path — and the road out of being mired in fears and not moving forward.

Up your skills

Finally, if you really feel you’re not moving forward because of a knowledge gap, you could learn more about article writing to build your confidence. Might give you the boost over the fear hump that you need.

To answer that last writer’s question, it was “safe” to send that query to another publication all along. Or as safe as freelancing will ever be. Feel that danger, and do it anyway.

That’s the only way to succeed as a freelance writer.

What’s your biggest article-writing fear? Share it — or your own fear-busting tips — in the comments.